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SPIRITUAL HEAD OF THE MUHAMMEDANS    149
another. Verily the most worthy of honour among you in the sight of Allah, is the most righteous; Allah is all-knowing and cognisant of your innermost thoughts.' "
"There is a common idea in the West that Muhammedans are fanatics and intolerant. Is this correct? Also that Islam was propagated entirely by the sword. What comment do you care to make on this?"
Sheikh el Maraghi smiled.
"Islam has become a firm and unshakable belief; Muslims have become reputed strict upholders of their faith. The biased critics of Islam have, therefore, accused it falsely of fanaticism. In point of fact, what its enemies term fanaticism is nothing but firm belief—no matter what they may call it.
"As to the allegation that Islam was propagated entirely by the sword, one has only to refer to historical facts, analysing the real causes of the wars in which Islam engaged in its early days. One thus realizes that these wars had nothing to do with the spread of Islam. They were mostly in defence of self and kin, for the protection of the Faithful and to defend them against persecution and tyranny inflicted upon them by the unbelievers who drove them out of their homes. For these reasons God permitted His Prophet to take up arms against the offenders. Saith the Lord:
" 'Allah doth not forbid you to be charitable and to deal justly with those who have not waged war against you on account of your religion and have not driven you out of your homes; verily Allah loveth the equitable. Only doth Allah forbid you to make friends of those who, on account of your religion, have waged war against you, and have driven you out of your homes and have aided those who drove you forth.'
And:
" 'Permission is granted unto those who have taken up arms against the unbelievers, for they have suffered persecution; and verily Allah is well able to succour their Those who have been driven out of their homes wrongfully, only because they say: Our Lord is Allah/
"These are, briefly, some of the causes that forced the Prophet and his Companions to take up arms. At first he suggested that his Companions should leave him alone to call upon the Arabs to adopt Islam. But he was met with abuses and they refused to accept the new faith, molested him and contrived to distort his message. He had no alternative other than defending